Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hargrada Saves The Day  

Games: Thanks to the awesome efforts of blogreader Hargrada, my bacon has been saved. He took the time and made the effort to trek down to floor 28, revived me, and left me a jar full of goodies to help out with the rest of my quest.

Tremendous thanks to Hargrada for the deed, it was utterly appreciated.

…And it was appreciated even more so for the fact that thanks to the rescue, I picked up where the ambushing enemies had left me to rot and soldiered on through to the end, finishing the game.

Shiren is a pretty unique title in that it’s less about grinding through experience levels or collecting phat lewt (although it doesn’t hurt) and more about wisely managing resources and using your head. Some of the best items in the game are very common and available early on, so once a player has learned how to properly use them, situations that formerly seemed impossible can be survived.

For example, I had ignored using the Staff of Paralysis for quite a while until I was in a pinch on one of the higher floors. I tried it out of desperation, and once I realized that it could put a complete stop to some of the meanest enemies in the dungeon with just one hit, the way I looked at the game completely changed.

(Hey… I may be a little bit slow, but at least I caught on eventually.)

For other Shiren players out there who may be interested, here are the stats I had when I finished the game:

Level 25
Strength 9
Hit Points 132
Mastersword +7 (w/ anti-rust)
Hide Shield +10 (w/ anti-rust)
Antidrain Armband
1 rescue (thanks again!)

For those of you who may be a little hesitant to jump into a Roguelike game since the genre is known for being a bit on the brutal side, let me just say that the stats and equipment above are on the low (probably VERY low) side of what can be achieved, and were the product of only a few hours’ worth of work once I learned what the game wanted of me.

My main strategy was to use Staves of Knockback, Doppelganger and Paralyze to get through most of the tough enemies on floors 25-29, and I had saved a Scroll of Sleep for the final boss room. After hitting the ultimate opponent with a tossed Mamel Meat (turning him from the super-powerful final boss into the weakest enemy in the game) he was dead in one swipe.

All in all, I give the game major props for actually applying the rules of play to the boss. Practically every other game out there would have made that meat (or the staves, for that matter) ineffective and given the boss a bunch of arbitrary advantages, but it was totally gratifying to see that although the developers set the bar high, they played fair the entire time – what works on the player works on the enemies, no exceptions.

I give Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer my highest possible recommendation.

Miscellaneous: I was talking to someone the other day and they had related to me a story of how they had finally come to a great epiphany about some of the choices they had made in their life and how they were product of their upbringing. After hearing them out, I was struck by the realization that this person’s stroke of insight should have seemed pretty obvious to anyone who thought about it for more than three minutes.

I don’t mean to belittle this person or downplay their own personal journey of discovery (gag) but this was hardly the first time that someone has related a similar experience. I come into contact with a huge number of people through my job, and I often find myself with plenty of time to chat with them. More often than not, things that seem like mysteries would (and should) be completely obvious to anyone after even the most cursory level of introspection.

It makes me wonder sometimes, do people just not think about what drives them or what makes them who they are? Is it really that unique to sit down and try to puzzle out the things that motivate a self to become what it is, and how it got there?

My initial response is that no… it’s not that special, but the more people I meet, the more it seems like this sort of self-examination is the exception and not the norm. I find it a little hard to believe that so many people trudge on through life with the blinders clamped down tight and never give much thought to why they do the things they do, but anecdotal evidence seems to prove otherwise…

Agree? Disagree? Thoughts?

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